Sunday, 20 June 2010
I am really pleased with the lovely 18th century blue I chose for the gallery walls, which really helped to set the context for the work, and to transform the space into a banqueting room.
And here I am adding the finishing touches - paper tapers for all the glass candlesticks.
Saturday, 5 June 2010
Alice Archer, who has embroidered them for me has done an amazing job!
I have also been working on the leaflet which will accompany the show, and will give a brief biography of my guests. Writing it all up, I have been really struck by quite how interconnected they all are - everyone has some direct link with at least one other person, and some of them, like Walpole and Pope link whole networks of characters.
Last Saturday there was a nice little article on me in the Guardian. It was about the studio, and weaving in particular, so not directly about this project, but there is a nice follow up slide show on the Guardian website at http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/audioslideshow/2010/jun/01/traditional-weaving
Tuesday, 25 May 2010
"The beautys of architecture may consist with the greatest plainess of structure"
Though the columns perhaps show a little more fancy...
The church boasts a number of very illustrious parishioners over its history. Amongst my guest list for 'Place Setting' are Alexander Pope, his nurse Mary Beach, and the actress Kitty Clive - a favourite of both Walpole and Garrick.
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
While I was looking around the housekeeper's rooms, I came across this beautiful little fireplace with the most charming tiles.
Monday, 3 May 2010
Wednesday, 21 April 2010
This is the link to Matthew's website: http://www.matthewandrews.co.uk/
Friday, 16 April 2010
Before the boxes are stitched, each one needs to be punched with holes. The back of the punched lids are very pleasing, with a series of raised bumps and holes, a little like braille.
The next stage is to start on the place settings themselves. These will be set into the 'portholes' in the table top. Each setting will have it's own quilling motif, referencing the plasterwork and papier mache ceilings of Orleans House and Strawberry Hill.
Tuesday, 13 April 2010
The guest list spans four centuries from the grandest to the most humble circles. One of the places will be set for Mary Beach. She was Alexander Pope's nurse, and he commissioned a memorial stone for her in St Mary's Twickenham. The church was designed by John James, who was also the first architect of Orleans House. James built the main part of the house, with the octagonal banqueting room (the only remaining part), added later by James Gibbs. I like the way that Alex Pope's name features as large on the stone as Mary Beach's.
Another guest on my list is Mistress Elizabeth Mayo. She was the mistress of the hotel on Eel Pie Island in the 19th century and was renound for her pies. Local legend tells that she made eel pies for Henry VIII, but as he died several centuries earlier, we can take that claim with a large pinch of salt.
Eel Pie Island still has a whimsical if slightly faded charm about it.
Just before Christmas, I was lucky enough to have a chance to look at the extensive collection of woven linen damasks at the V&A. There are some wonderful examples of narrative designs from the 17th and 18th centuries. Hunting and battle scenes, views of London, and even a wonderful trompe l'oeil tablecloth with an extraordinary surreal woven banquet complete with wine goblets, plates, cutlery and even some very fine lobsters.
Friday, 9 April 2010
Wednesday, 31 March 2010
As you might guess from the title, 'Place Setting' is essentially a project about dining. The theme is particularly apt, as the only original remaining fragments of Orleans House are the stables and the beautiful 18th century octagonal dining room, which now adjoins the 1960's gallery space. All the rest of the house was pulled down in the 1920's by a balast merchant, who bought the site with an eye on the gravel pits underneath it! Demolition was already under way, when the banqueting room - thankfully situated at the far end of the site from the wrecking balls - was bought in the nick of time by Nellie Ionides, a wealthy neighbour. She used to host her own dinner parties in the banqueting room, with all the food processed from her kitchen in the neighbouring house.
In 'Place Setting', a six metre dining table runs down the length of the gallery. The table is set for a guest list spanning four centuries along the banks of the Thames. Arisocrats and architects are seated alongside cooks and nursemaids. Place settings are cut into the stitched damask table top, with plates worked in quilling to reflect the ceilings above. I found the beautiful images above on the internet whilst planning the pitch for the commission.
As part of the project, I have been running a series of workshops with my friend Keirion. This is one of the kids in the kitchen at Ham House. Dissapointingly the pastry is salt dough, filled with uncooked black-eyed beans!
Saturday, 27 March 2010
Although this wallpaper in the 'blue bedchamber' is actually from the late 19th century, and not at all authentic to the house, I really like the deep gloomy colours and the gold highlights. It will of course all be stripped away in the restoration.
The ceiling in the blue bedchamber still has the original guilding from Walpole's time - it's a beautiful deep red-gold, and a very lovely simple repeat pattern. There's something of a feel of bamboo trellis about it I think. Although it had a grand bed in it, the room was not really used as a bedroom - more of a show room. The working bedrooms were all on the floor above.
This is the pattern I have designed for my piece. It is based on a number of different damasks, and has been simplified so that the pattern shows up even when stitched at quite a big scale.
Saturday, 20 March 2010
I have been looking at archive imagery. I'm fascinated by the way that the outside of the archive files are so regular and anonymous, whilst inside are perhaps hidden tails of dramas, scandals and, perhaps most interesting, the minute detail of day to day lives over the centuries.
For 'Place Setting', I am going to be working onto and into this theme quite literally, cutting and stitching into my own archive of historic narratives. At the moment I have a huge wall of archive files towering over the studio. It's very exciting to begin to anticipate the scope and scale of the final installation.
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
The later 18th century ceiling of the long gallery at Strawberry Hill is worked in papier mache. It was modelled on the ceiling of Henry VII's chapel at Westminster Abbey, and is a gloroius confection in cream and gold. The other-worldliness of the detail was even more pronounced for me as I was lucky enough to visit the house during its restoration. From under the shadows of the scaffolding, tip-toeing along the bare joists, with the rain pouring outside, the work took on an altogether ethereal quality.
Monday, 22 February 2010
My own background is in textiles. I am a weaver, and work across a range of weave and stitch techniques. There is much more information about my work on my website at http://www.eleanorpritchard.com/
I hope you enjoy the ride!